Library Shelving that Meets Higher Aspirations

By Stuffey | January 7, 2020

Nine Considerations for Library Storage

Anyone who’s done their research on the benefits of utilizing a high-bay library storage solution knows that as smart as the decision is, it’s not always an easy one. Planning for such a large installation is a complex task. We urge you to keep the following nine considerations in mind when planning your system. Doing so will help facilitate efficient construction and a smoother transition, no matter the facility.

Site Selection

Let’s be honest. The high cost of real estate can require off-site facilities to be located in older buildings or in newer but out-of-the-way facilities. No matter where your space is located, soil and structural tests are required to make certain the selected site can support the weight of a high-bay system its contents.

Storage Space Requirements

When thinking about how much space your organization is going to need, think about tomorrow. Certainly you’re considering how much room you’ll need right now, but it’s always a smart idea to look a ways down the road, as well. What’s more, it’s interesting to note that project planners and librarians today are opting to store volumes in boxes by size rather than by subject. Since all volumes and boxes are barcoded, volumes can be easily located in the high-bay system, no matter where they’re stored.

Environmental Control

To help ensure the long-term viability of your contents, whatever they may be, it’s necessary to maintain proper humidity, temperature and ventilation in the facility in which the system will be placed. While there is some variance as to the ideal range of acceptable humidity levels, 30-50-percent humidity is generally considered acceptable, with lower levels being even better. Also, don’t forget that HVAC systems take up a lot of room. The placement of vents, fans and other components ought to be accounted for during planning.

Shelving and Retrieval

Pardon us for pointing out the obvious, but high-bay systems are, well, kind of tall. That said, they require a picker or lift to enable staffers to safely shelve and retrieve items. When planning your layout, it’s vital to consider not only the dimensions of the picker itself and the room it will require to operate but the picker’s various accessories, as well. The more details you consider now, the fewer surprises down the road.

Processing Space

Any facility, large or small, needs to set aside space for processing. This is particularly important in libraries with high-bay facilities, where volumes are usually sorted by size and placed in boxes before being shelved. The pickers used in high-bay systems can be fitted with carts that provide a workspace for staff to load and unload volumes, take notes, and complete other tasks while they’re working in the shelving area.

Code Compliance

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes have specific requirements regarding sprinklers, including sprinkler configurations, which can impact the height of high-bay shelving units. These requirements can also dictate the size of water mains that will serve the storage facility. Consulting with a fire protection engineer early in the planning process will help ensure that any potential compliance issues are addressed early on.

Testing and Certification

Installing a high-bay storage system is a major investment of time and resources. That being understood, all such systems should be thoroughly tested to ensure compliance with accepted standards, including fire safety standards, powder coat paint specifications set forth by the American Library Association, and HVAC configuration. Floor levelness is also a major consideration, particularly when compact mobile rail systems will be installed for a mobile high-bay storage system. Do it once; do it right.

Future Needs

Even with an increased emphasis on digital information in our 21st-century world, most institutions continue to acquire large numbers of paper-based books and other materials. The University of Wisconsin-Madison, for instance, acquires such materials at the rate of approximately one linear mile of shelving per year! Thankfully, high-bay shelving units can be added over time, as libraries acquire more materials.

Conditioning and Quarantine

Given that stored items benefit from constant temperatures and humidity levels, some facilities are designed with interior loading docks that function as conditioning areas. These areas allow books and other materials to be brought to temperature in a low-humidity environment to prevent harmful condensation. In fact, some facilities have also implemented quarantine procedures to ensure that insects and other pests don’t destroy or damage stored materials. Bookworms don’t like bookworms, after all.

Patterson Pope is proud to represent great products like the XTend® Mobile High-Bay Storage Systems, from Spacesaver – the industry leader in high-bay shelving. Together, we encourage you to involve our collective team of consultants and space planners early in the design process to take advantage of our extensive experience and practical know-how. Our products are also available for purchase on a number of state and national contracts, including GSA, NJPA, and National IPA.

We invite you to learn more about high-bay shelving and decide for yourself if it’s right for your organization. Whenever you’re ready to move, we’re here to help.


About Stuffey

To say that Stuffey was made for this role would be an understatement. A life long hoarder, Stuffey understands how the Laws of Stuff can wreak havoc in the real world of an organization’s space. Now as part of his reformation, he is committed to passing on to you his secrets in our battle against the tyranny of STUFF.

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